Lights, camera, impact: The views of North West London’s children and young people are championed in short films by the community and the Mohn Centre.
Over the past two years, the Mohn Centre for Children’s Health and Wellbeing has been working with children, young people and parents from four community groups: Old Oak Primary School, Nova Family Programme, The White City Youth Club (Part of the Harrow Club Family) and West Thames College.
Together with community partners, the Centre has supported children and young people to document the issues in their urban environment that they felt were shaping their health and wellbeing. The children and young people took photographs, created maps, recorded their views and debated topics.
The Mohn Centre has transformed all this content into a series of short films representing the key themes that have emerged through this work.
On Thursday 21 September, the Mohn Centre for Children’s Health and Wellbeing, part of the School of Public Health, premiered two short films with its community partners, Imperial College London, local policymakers and other members of the local community.
The event, held at The Invention Rooms in White City, saw the culmination of months of collaboration between young people and researchers from the Mohn Centre. Through workshops and interviews, the young participants provided valuable insights into the issues they face daily in terms of health and wellbeing.
Both films were crafted entirely of content collected by the children and young people in North West London. The first film “How much care we give” focused on the views of younger children where they explored key places in their community, access to green space and which foods are considered healthy and unhealthy.
The second film titled “All these stressors” highlights the different concerns related to health and wellbeing that young people aged 12 – 20 years have. The film delves into topics of stress, family life, alcohol and drugs and police stop and search.
Professor Neil Ferguson, Director of the School of Public Health said: “It was a pleasure to witness the enthusiasm and engagement of the children and young people who have been involved in these activities. The videos offer valuable insight into the perspectives of the local community as well as the approach undertaken by the Mohn Centre team.
“By bringing together world-leading research with public involvement work, we are able to create a real impact to children’s lives.”
The children and young people involved in the project have presented a holistic view of their experiences of health and wellbeing, which challenges work across traditional research boundaries.
This collaborative approach between the community and researchers at the Mohn Centre has underlined the importance of engaging children and young people in discussions surrounding health and the value of events that bring together people of all ages.
Dr Rachel B Smith, Mohn Research Fellow said; "It is awesome being part of this project. Seeing the enthusiasm and creativity of these young people and the stories they share within these films is so inspiring. Bringing the participants together for the screening, alongside our local MP, was not just great fun; it was a testament to the power of collaboration and the potential for positive change when we empower our youth and listen to their voice."
One student from Old Oak Primary School said; “I liked that you came in and spoke to us directly instead of just doing a survey. I also liked the photography part of it.”
A parent from Nova Family Programme said; “Giving the kids some time and walking around the street with a simple camera, and ask them to look for a good frame or picture. They are in the present, they are being mindful.”
The event was attended by local MP Andy Slaughter and Hammersmith and Fulham Councillor Alex Sanderson of College Park and Old Oak who is also Cabinet Member for Children and Education. Both commended the young people for sharing their experiences and creating a positive impact in their community. They expressed their commitment to supporting initiatives that champion the views of these children and young people in North West London.
The issues raised by children, young people and their parents and carers present an agenda for discussion for the Mohn Centre in shaping its strategy and priorities. The Centre will continue discussions with community partners over the next six months to develop an understanding of the themes and opportunities for future research, which will be presented at the official launch of the Mohn Centre in spring 2024.
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